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Irvine Cross - Report

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SCX on the Beach

Report and Pics:  Andy Wardman


While the world’s best cross racers were battling it out on the sandy parcours of Koksijde, Belgium this weekend, Scotland’s crossers also took on the sand at Irvine, North Ayrshire for Round 8 of the Scottish Cyclocross Series.

Over 130 riders headed to the dunes at Irvine and were treated to a truly ‘Euro-esque’ course laid out by promoting club Walkers Cycling, complete with 300m loose sand section to plough/grind/run/carve through each lap!  If that wasn’t challenge enough, riders also had to face a set of steps, some tough, undulating grassy sections open to a savage cross wind and a super steep grass run up!  Fast, low on technical-ness and hardly a spot of mud to be seen – it was a course that would suit those with strong legs in the peleton. 

Youths Race
21 riders kicked off proceedings under blue skies and sunshine for the Youths race.  After an excellent 3rd place at the previous round in Dundee, Tom Arnstein stepped things up and took the win in fine style, ahead of Stuart McClusky.  Arnstein didn’t have things all his own way though and early in the race had to battle hard with McClusky at the front before opening up a small gap mid race which he able to gradually extend to the line.    Ryan Fenwick took the final podium spot in the Youth A’s.  

In the Youth A Girls, Yuka Gallagher took the win ahead of Hannah Ferguson in 2nd.  In the Youth B’s, Stuart Balfour won out ahead of Edward Fletcher in 2nd spot and Sean Noon in 3rd, whilst Jenna Fenwick was 1st Youth B girl.   

Open Race - Seniors/Vets/Women/Juniors

Junior rider Kenta Gallagher demonstrated his absolute talent this weekend by putting on a dominant display in the Open Race, taking a commanding solo victory ahead of some classy cross racers.   Behind, Gary Macrae put in a storming ride to take 3rd overall and the win in the Vets category, whilst Ruth Fraser-Moodie continued her winning ways in the Women’s category with an excellent ride that also placed her 29th overall. 

With no split fields at this round an impressive field of 90 riders made their way down to the actual beach for the start of the Open race!   And what a sight it was as the peleton charged towards the holeshot, a deep ‘n’ loose sand run up and over a dune!  Whilst the lead riders got through safely, many behind were briefly caught up the bottle neck.   


Up front, Gallagher soon had the field stretched out and coming into the sand sector for the first time already had daylight between him and the chasers.  From here there would be no looking back - extending his lead each lap, he soloed away to a fine victory. 

Behind the chase was certainly on as National Youth MTB Champ Grant Ferguson bridged up to Craig Hardie.  For several laps neither could shake the other until a sore back forced Ferguson to retire, leaving Hardie to ride on solo for a well earned 2nd place (and 1st Senior).  No easy feat given the strong cross winds. 

A larger group of riders including several riders in the running for the Series overall took up the battle behind.  This group soon slimmed down to just 4 riders – Paul Newnham, James Fraser-Moodie, Bruce McLeary and Steven McInnes.  However, after slower starts, Gary Macrae and Paul McInally then worked their way up to this group and it was race on!  Macrae quickly moved to the front and pushed the pace hard, opening up a small gap a few laps later with Newnham and McInnes following around 10 seconds down.  Macrae, who after admitted to “feeling very good” kept the pace high and held the gap to the line to take an excellent 3rd place overall and win in the Vets race.  Bravo!   McInnes managed to open up a small gap on Newnham through traffic on the final passage of the sand sector which he held to the finish, picking up 4th overall.   Newnham took 5th overall just ahead of a fast finishing McInally. Behind Macrae, James Melville rode a solid race to take 2nd spot in the Vets ahead of Steve Nicholson in 3rd.



In the Women’s race, Ruth Fraser-Moodie started strongly and kept the pace high, stretching her lead throughout the race to win comfortably from Maddy Robinson in 2nd and Gillian Palmer in 3rd.  Gallagher’s overall race win also bagged him the 1st Junior prize ahead of Matthew Hamilton in 2nd and Jack Taylor in 3rd. 

Under 12s
Guy Willoughby reports:
While the senior riders may be waking up with recurring nightmares of a soft sandy track, the U12s (waiting while their parents and siblings raced the dunes) were rewarded with a track laid out by Neil Walker that avoided sand and also utilised the fast drying ground - making it the first race of the series where mud was not a factor.
 
The course used the same hard track from the senior course alongside the car park, but two hurdles were placed half-way along to slow up the speed merchants and test the "carry and remount" skills of all the kids.  At the lap-counting point the kids took a sharp right U turn then headed into a series of grassy zig-zags before rejoining the hard track for another lap.

21 youngsters lined up, with the smaller field of just six U12’s in the front row.  From the gun Jamie Willoughby (Drumlanrig) sprinted away testing a very light bike instead of his normal mountain bike, and took an early lead which he stretched during the race. The next 10 minutes saw a ding dong of a battle for the placings. Rhona Callender (Wallace Warriors) and Erika Allen (Wallace Warriors) stayed within a couple of lengths of each other but changing places for second and third, with Erika quicker on the zig-zags but slower over the hurdles, but Rhona faster on the straight (and putting her chain back on!). Trying to pass them was Joe Nally (Carnegie Cyclones) who was also aiming for clear air from Callum Shackley (Glasgow Riderz) with his traditional sprint finish that has pipped Nally at the line more often than Nally cares to remember.
Back in 5th, 6th and 7th were two of the quick U10 riders - Danny Mullhulland (Johnstone Jets) and Tormod Doherty, and Shackley playing his normal waiting game. These three then made their move with two minutes to ride, with the "friends" from Glasgow, Mullholland and Shackley elbowing each other up the straight and then entirely forgetting to break and take the tight turn, giving the spectators one of the most dramatic pile ups of the day!  Doherty slipped by and took the advantage to win the U10 boys, ahead of Mulholland and Cameron Watson, while Nally  pushed on to finish 2nd of the boys behind Willoughby, and well clear of Shackley.

By the end of the race Rhona Callendar took 1st for the girls and her best result of the season, closely followed by Erika and then Katie Allen.  The U10 girls saw a dogged but incident free race, won by Jenny Hall  (Wallace Warriors), with Anna Shackley (Glasgow Riderz) and Ariana Willoughby (Drumlanrig) taking second and third.  Brothers and sisters took the honours in the U8, with Sandy Hall winning for the boys, and Niamh Doherty for the girls.  With Walkers Cycling Club providing quick results and a podium and prizes for the first three in each of the six U12 categories, the kids all left with big smiles - and next week at Glenrothes looks like being an open race for the trophies in all 3 age categories.

Prize Giving
Series sponsors Crank Brothers and Pedros as well as race organisers Walkers Cycling provided some excellent prizes for the podium positions in each category.

A very well done to Walkers Cycling for putting on a brilliant cross race on a superbly challenging and unique course, that’s fast becoming a classic. 

Race Pics
Andy Wardman and others avoided getting sand in their lenses to capture lots of images from the race, check out the Scottish Cyclocross Flickr group.

Next Up – Scottish Cyclocross Champs, Glenrothes, 5th December
It’s the biggest race of the Scottish cyclocross calendar at one of Scotland’s finest cross courses.   Expect fireworks at Glenrothes, a super fast, tough parkland course that will deliver worthy champions.  Full details on the Champs race as well a course video preview from race organiser Graham Barclay of Kirkcaldy & District CC is up on scottishcyclocross.org.uk  Entry for the Champs races is now closed but there will also be support races for all categories, which can be entered on the day.